A FRESH new image and greater support from businesses are key priorities for the new boss of an under-threat animal sanctuary.

Marketing specialist Iain Atkin said he is determined to keep Stadhampton’s Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary afloat.

The South Oxfordshire centre, home to 250 domestic pets, is facing closure after 46 years unless it can raise an extra £40,000 a month.

It spends £60,000 a month but its income is only £20,000.

Mr Atkin, who joined as centre manager in March after working for marketing firms in London and the Midlands, said: “It is a three-point plan. First we need to go to and beg for money in order to keep going.

“Then we do the cleaning-up, and get people to sponsor individual kennels. Then we can get staff in lovely new uniforms, make the shelter more attractive, and start to rehome dogs.”

And Mr Atkin, 39, who was raised in Kidlington, is drawing up a list of big Oxfordshire companies he can go to for funding.

It has about 100 dogs, more than 100 cats, a dozen rabbits, two horses, two goats and five sheep. Each year it spends £126,000 on vets bills, £270,000 on staff, £73,000 on food and bedding, £16,000 on waste disposal and £8,500 on transport.

It already has a sponsorship deal with Banbury cleaning firm Karcher to get two pressure washers to spruce up tired looking kennels. Mr Atkin said: “These guys are good at training dogs but they spend their time cleaning. They should be caring for dogs.”

Cat-owner and Karcher product manager Jeff Hilton said: “We have the right sort of products to support the sanctuary, and allow them to concentrate on things other than cleaning.”

One of the sanctuary’s six trustees, Charlie McCreedy, is seeking sponsors and has drawn up plans for a new kennel block.

He already has three sponsors willing to pay £1,000 each for their name on a kennel.

Mr McCreedy, who owns Thirst bar on Park End Street, said: “I am a huge animal lover. To rebuild all 80 kennels would cost £400,000, so I came up with the idea to build a wooden design with an interior that is 100 per cent washable.”

Mr Atkin hopes to open charity shops in Wantage and Abingdon to add to shops in Summertown, Witney, Didcot and Carterton.

Former manager Ron Heath has now retired, while wardens Aaron Denton and his partner Rachel Tatam will continue to lead care of the centre’s animals.

To donate or for information visit oxfordshireanimalsanctuary.org.uk or call 01865 890239.

The sanctuary

The founding members of the sanctuary rescued stray animals and housed them in boarding kennels and catteries in the 1960s.

During the very cold Christmas of 1967, the Oxford Mail published a picture of founder member Margaret Gray feeding hay to ponies on Port Meadow. The picture was seen by Sybil Morley, who gave the group £10,000 to help buy a sanctuary.

The South Oxfordshire Hunt put its property on the market at Stadhampton and it became Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, with volunteers turning the stables and hounds’ quarters into kennels.

In 1970, 35 animals were moved from boarding homes in the county to the sanctuary.